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Star Wars actor defends race-swapping characters to be more 'inclusive' from people who get 'butthurt'

Pascal called for opening roles so that they can be cast by actors of different racial or gender identities than how the character was originally portrayed.

Actor Pedro Pascal condemned people who "get so butthurt" about famous characters being cast as different races and sex. 

Pedro Pascal, who has played roles in some of the most popular shows in recent years, ranging from "Game of Thrones" and "The Mandalorian," spoke about the future of diverse casting during an interview with Variety on Tuesday.

Re-casting characters in the name of adding diversity has been a major debate in recent years. One of the most prominent examples was the Broadway musical "Hamilton" which featured America’s Founding Fathers as played by Black and Latino actors, while the role of King George, the musical’s villain, was notably played by a White man. More recently, Disney’s latest live-action adaptation of Danish fairytale "The Little Mermaid" and Netflix’s depiction of Cleopatra as Black have both faced backlash, with the latter facing a lawsuit over "erasing the Egyptian identity."

Pascal suggested all roles should be free game for altering by race or sex.

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"Do you feel that wave coming, that you can just be Pedro Pascal, an actor, versus ‘Pedro Pascal the Latino guy that we have for Latino roles’ - and we love you on Narcos and everything like that - but do you feel that change right now?," the interviewer asked. 

"I think that the change is really important and that the best way to continue representation is exactly as you put it," Pascal replied, adding that the industry should focus on "just casting a person into a role" rather than "limiting to a character to its racial identity."

He then addressed those who are upset when leaders in the entertainment industry change the identity of established characters in famous intellectual properties such as film or television.

"Especially if it’s an IP that we’re familiar with or a book. And people get so butthurt about this kind of stuff, but who cares? Because that is the coolest way of moving the needle, is being open about the casting in every way," he said. 

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Pascal recounted how he read one script and wondered how interesting it would be to see the menacing father character instead played as a mother and advocated, "sort of treating the approach with some originality and let that originality be inclusive."

However, he warned about the "totally legit" concerns of forcing representation just to satisfy a "political frustration" rather than in service of storytelling. 

"Instead of being like ‘these are the instructions, this is how we need to follow it… let’s label what representation is and follow those…’ No, I think that we need to continue discovering it and making sure that we understand that representation is in service of telling the story instead of fulfilling a political frustration, which is totally legit also," Pascal said. 

He went on to say, "It’s a very interesting thing to navigate, and I think that it deserves all the attention in the world so that we do navigate it, and that the needle does movie, and that things do kind of like change."

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